The Psalmist yearned for the spiritual blessings of the Temple (Psalm 27):
4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. . . .
8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
The Temple was vital to the ancient Jews. It was also important to New Testament Christians, who gathered there daily after the Ascension of Christ (Acts 2:46), though they were not in charge of the edifice. Many suggest that the need for the Temple done away when Christ rose from the dead. However, the Bible prophesies that the Temple will continue to matter. When Christ returns in His glory, He will go to the Temple in Jerusalem (Malachi 3:1-3). Afterward, the Saints will serve God day and night in the Temple during the great Millennium (Revelation 7:15). Sounds like it will still matter and still have a role (although the Rev. 7 reference may refer to a temple in heaven, not a temple on earth).
I recently met a Christian from Mainland China who is pursuing a Ph.D. in theology and is doing his dissertation on the topic of temple purity. What a great topic to study. From Psalm 24:
3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.
When I was a bishop doing temple recommend interviews, I usually forgot to ask the question about lifting up one’s soul to an idol, but I hope it was implicit in the other questions I asked. It is a holy house, a place of purity, where serious preparation is required to come and participate.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel said that the Sabbath is like a temple in time. Jewish scholar Jon Levinson, whose writings about the ancient Temple have done much to strengthen my appreciation of the ancient roots of the LDS temple, built on the idea by saying that “The Temple is to space as the Sabbath is to time.” (Sinai and Zion) Yes, this is so true. They are both interruptions in the profane world, a place where man can step into and experience the sacred, either sacred time or sacred space. The Temple is there to help man prepare for entering into the presence of Deity, the place where we seek the face of the Lord. Like the Psalmist, we should meditate upon and yearn for the great blessings of the Temple.
82 thoughts on “Seeking the Lord the Old-Fashioned Way: In the Holy Temple”
You make another great point Jeff. I wonder why other Christian religions can believe that temple worship all of a sudden was no longer an import. I must have failed to read that somewhere in the King James version of the Bible. Maybe it was discussed & slashed by a bunch of mortal politicians at Nicene in 325 AD. I don't know. Perhaps one of your future non-LDS commenters can offer some pracitical explanation for why it's no longer part of mainstream Christian worship despite, as you plainly said, "the Bible prophesies that the Temple will continue to matter."
I know many say they can't understand how 'Mormon' theology can believe certain things, but if they listen we can offer a scriptural explanation for all of our doctrine, so how do 'mainstream Christians' justify their lack of temple worship with scriptural evidence?
Well, you can argue that the single site in Jerusalem matters as a sacred spot, but it was sacred because of the temple, and that’s what will matter and where Saints will be during the Millennium. Better than Starbucks. Better than Twitter. Better than BYU football. (Ooh, verging on heresy/blasphemy, but you get the point.)
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Since I’m in the U.S. I think I’d be in the New Jerusalem, right? That’s what I understand.
HI Nathan and Valerie,
I don't know if I can answer your question, but I'll take a stab at it. Temple worship, as you understand it, is not the same as we non-LDS understand it to be. Your faith, from my observations, tends to be very literal in belief and application. You literally believe in the restoration of the ten tribes of Israel…there were twelve by the way. You literally believe that resides in your temple. For non-LDS the temple isn't an actual place, it what lies in your heart. God's temple goes with us whereever we go, what need have we for the building. That's at least one explanation.
Another is that we believe Jesus came to bring a new covenant to the people, one that includes loving one's neighbour, and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. Your faith tends to go back to Old Testament teachings, whereas mainstream Christians move forward to New Testament teachings and following Christs laws. This is a complex play on semantics, but we don't necessarily believe that God did away with the laws of Moses, we just believe that he expanded upon and simplified them. If we're treating others the way Christ would have treated them, then what need is there for the temple since we are worship God by exemplifying his son's example.
Third, its what your temple is used for that causes most of us to bristle. Consider for a moment that most of us don't believe JS was a prophet, or that he restored anything. From that vantage point, why would any non-LDS person see a need for the temple. Additionally, if you read about the Jewish Temple ceremony, your ceremony doesn't even come close to the established practises in God's temple. Add to that the concern that JS made up the temple ceremony by pirating Masonic practices, and its easy to see why non-LDS don't recognize the need for your temple.
You can offer a scriptural explanation for all of your doctrine, but you have to understand that mainstream Christians only recognize the Bible as God's scriptures. If you're offering the BOM, POGP, or D & C as scripture, you have to understand, we don't consider that to be scripture. If you're offering the Bible, you have to understand that your interpretation of the Bible is different than ours, and we don't agree as to what God is saying about the importance of the temple. Further, to us, non-LDS, your interpretation of the Bible is clouded by the fact that you believe in other scripture that we don't recognize as being scripture. So when you're offering your explanation for why the temple is important, its as if you're talking Greek to most of us.
Lastly, and this comes back to the first point, we do believe in the importance of temple worship, we just don't recognize your temple as God's house. Our churches and cathedrals are our temples and houses of God. God does reside in those places and he is with us when we pray. I personally believe that God's house is open to all who would seek to enter. This is the problem I have with your temple. Its closed to those who need it most…the sinners. These were the folks Jesus spoke to, and these were the folks Jesus invited into God's presence, yet your temple bars them from God's presence because they are not temple worthy. Doesn't seem christian to me. Hope this explains a bit.
For me, the simplest answer is usually the best answer.
Why didn’t first century Christianity have temple practice?
Actually, I think they did.
There was a temple in Jerusalem and early Christians probably considered it just as much their temple as anyone’s. And they would have shared the Jewish assumption that the temple in Jerusalem was the only valid temple.
Problem is, it was controlled by their enemies. So Christians were never in a position to adapt the temple to Christian worship. Then the temple was destroyed by the Romans, Christianity was plunged into a disarray that took centuries to recover from, and by the time the Christian community was on the mend, the temple had been forgotten.
Now Christian theologians spend their time making strained arguments about why the temple never mattered in the first place.
Peter was very-much a Jew. In fact, the accounts in Acts and elsewhere seem to indicate that he basically considered Christianity to be “Judaism – The Sequel.” He never dropped any Jewish custom or practice without being practically ordered to by God.
I think you can bet real money that if Peter had been in a position to “claim the temple for Jesus,” he would have.
Thank you for this post! The Holy Temple really is like the sabbath!
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Catholic Defender, before I got to the end and saw this was a post from you, I thought I was reading a somewhat condescending put-down from “just another” drive-by critic with the ability to write well. I was just a tad surprised and taken back – no offense! – that it was you.
Forgive me if I misstate any of your position (I recognize you are an unusually civil and fair-minded reader here), but let me clarify how I responded to your post. I was surprised that you seem to think:
a) that we can’t count (the scattered 10 tribes refers to the lost Northern Kingdom hauled away by the Assyrians – the temple symbolism of the oxen supporting the baptismal font affirms the existence of 12 tribes)
b) that we think the gathered House of Israel reside in the temple, not as part of the kingdom of God among the society of humankind
c) that we don’t get the basic idea of the new covenant that Christ brought and the higher law of charity, etc.
d) that we somehow neglect the message of the New Testament and focus primarily on the Old, when in reality they are both part of the Word of God – ever notice how much of what Christ and the Apostles taught was quoting the Old Testament? But we fully agree that the core message of salvation is found in the New. (Perhaps you’ll appreciate my puzzlement in finding that some of the same people who condemn us for adding to the word – note that God is free to add all He wants! – also condemn us for paying attention to a major part of the Word that they seem to have subtracted. That’s not you, but others seem to have this stance, sort of.)
e) that we don’t understand that the LDS temple is foreign and not prima facie necessary and praiseworthy to those who aren’t LDS. It’s probably just me being defensive, but the tone of the latter part came across as if you’re saying we don’t recognize the obvious gaps between our views and others, as informed by our belief in ongoing revelation. Most of us should recognize that the whole temple concept, including baptism for the dead – in spite of that being a legitimate Christian practice among at least some early Christians and in spite of being mentioned positively in the Bible – cannot be reconstructed as we practice it based on the Bible or other early texts alone (the mysteries and esoteric aspects of early Christian were not meant to be written down and are barely mentioned, of course). They are unique products of modern revelation, in spite of interesting elements and parallels pointing to or consistent with a Restoration. Yes, we absolutely recognize that non-LDS people won’t appreciate what the Temple is all about, that they won’t like it when they can’t enter, that they won’t agree with anything from our modern revelations, and that no matter how excited we get about evidences of Restoration or Book of Mormon evidences or whatever, faith and a spiritual conversion will always be essential.
I think you know us better than my reading of your post suggested. We are Christians, we do rejoice in the New Testament and the teachings of Christ, and we do make our chapels and Sabbath worship open to everyone across the world, and spend a huge amount of our money and a large portion of our lives in trying to reach out to all of our fellow sinners with the great news of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And trust me, we send plenty of sinners to the Temple! I know of one sinful male from Appleton who just went to the Chicago Temple a couple weeks ago.
I was going to add: "church is for sinners." we invite all to come to our churches and visit our Sacrament Meetings. In fact, all CAN visit inside our temples. We just have certain requirements one must meet before they enter. You are more than welcome to adhere to the standards and enter with the rest of us. But as for worship, we worship at church and make sacred covenants in temples.
I have read many comments on Jeff's blog here from you CD and I would think that you would have already understood that.
You said: "[Our] faith tends to go back to Old Testament teachings [and seems to neglect New Testament teachings]. Once again, I think you would know better than that. Christ came and brought the new law. He lived, He preached, He suffered, He died, and He was resurrected the third day. And He lives still.
THAT is the basic, fundamental teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This is just another example to me of other faiths not clearly understanding what the LDS believe and practice in our worship. (I had another Catholic try to tell me that we don't participate in the Eucharist/Communion/Sacrament and that she's been to LDS church services – maybe she went to a stake conference??)
Hopefully we can clear some of these erroneous thoughts up. We don't need folk running around thinking & preaching wrong things about the LDS.
I can see how people outside of the LDS church might be a bit put off by the fact that our Temples aren’t open to the public (unlike our chapels, which are). In some ways, the Temple is a lot more open and available than it may seem.
50,000+ missionaries try full-time to convince people to come to church and ultimately, to the temple. And if you miss out on that chance in life, we’re more than happy to extend the opportunity after you die via vicarious ceremonies like baptism for the dead. You might not agree with our vicarious temple ordinance work, but hopefully it demonstrates how anxious we are to extend the blessings we feel we receive in the temple to others who haven’t yet experienced them.
Sorry for the double post—but I just wanted to say that Jeff’s point about how we’re not trying to reconstruct temple worship from the Bible is critical.
Having accepted the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith, I find parallels to temple worship throughout the Bible. But I shouldn’t be surprised if what seems obvious to me isn’t obvious to someone who doesn’t accept the restoration, as CD points out.
After all, folks who accept Jesus Christ as the Savior can find references to him throughout the Old Testament (Isaiah 53 for example), in places that non-Christians don’t find him.
I didn't mean to come across as condecending, that was not my intent at all. I was trying to answer the question posed without offending, but still managed to offend. Sorry about that. I'm going to try to clarify a few things.
First when I said that your faith tends to go back to Old Testament teachings, that wasn't meant to imply that you don't follow New Testament teachings…the contrary is true. But, I often sit as an observer in your meetings, and listen very closely to what's being discussed. What I hear, tends to harken back to a strict adherence to following the 10 commandments as well as the scriptures given by Jesus. You strictly interpret Malachi and the law of tithing. None of this is really a problem, its just from an observers point of view things look like you follow the Old Testament pretty closely. I might actually be wrong or misinterpreting.
As far as the 10 versus 12 tribes go, that wasn't meant to be derogatory. As an observer I hear discussions of restoring the 10 tribes of Israel and have always wondered what happened to the other 2 tribes and why they aren't being restored.
I figure you and most of the folks that post here understand the gaps in your teachings versus ours. There are huge gaps, the temple being one of them. I'm going to try and take another stab at this from a different angle.
All your life, if you've been born and raised mormon, you've been taught the importance of the temple, and how you need to keep yourselves worthy to enter the temple. Your teachings about the temple, while somewhat based in biblical teachings, predominantly are given to you from the D & C, and the BOM expansions on the biblical teachings. My unbringing though has a different route altogether. My whole life I've been taught that the chapels where I pray are the house of God, and that his temple is found in the hearts of men and women. Our bodies are God's temple, what lies in our hearts and minds is what's important. So conceptually we are coming from different places when you start talking about temples and worship. The point I was making is that we are not speaking about the same thing when each of us is talking about the temple. For you its an actual building, for me its something I carry with me everyday. Both of us recognize the importance of temples, we just have a different concept of what the word temple means in our Christian practises. That's part of what I was getting at when I was talking about who's allowed to enter. For me, God's house is a place where all are welcome, especially the unworthy…frankly none of us are worthy to enter his house which is why Christ came to establish the new covenant in the first place.
On another point, Nathan and Valerie, you don't share in the Eucharist, you do share in the sacrament. They are not the same thing. I can and probably will expand on that if you'd like, I just don't have time to right now.
CD – I know about the Catholic views of the Eucharist and how they are different than LDS (and Protestant religions as well).
Eucharist in the Catholic Church refers to both the celebration of the Mass (Liturgy) and the consecrated bread and wine which Catholics believe literally becomes the body and blood of Christ.
The other Catholic I was talking to said: “I have been to the sacrament meeting- but this seems a far cry from our way of the Lord’s Supper.”
How far from the Lord’s Supper as laid out in the New Testament does she think we are? It seems that you have attended a sacrament meeting once or twice before.
Just to recap, and you tell me where you think we are wrong in celebrating the rite of the Sacrament as laid out by Christ Himself: The Sacrament, bread and water, is prepared for and blessed by priesthood holders. The bread is then passed reverently to all in attendance. After the bread has been passed out to all, the priests bless the water, which is then passed reverently to all in attendance.
Those in attendance take the opportunity to ponder on Christ’s suffering both in Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary.
You are correct in that we don’t celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist as Roman Catholics do. But as far as I’ve read, the Liturgy is just a different way of performing the rites which lead up to the partaking of the wafer and wine in your case. The other Catholic also claimed that we are far off since we don’t claim the Eucharist we are omitting something that was “clearly an essential part of the early church as testified to not just by Christians but by witnesses who counted themselves outside of the church.” She couldn’t give me any Biblical scriptures which laid out the reason for the creation of the current Roman Catholic rite of the Liturgy of the Eucharist for me though. Perhaps you can fill me in on some New Testament passages where it describes in detail the necessity for each step of the Eucharist.
I would just like to understand better scriptural foundations for why Roman Catholics do what they do. My feeling is most have no clue.
CD – on your inquiry of the Lost 10 Tribes…
Hope that helps.
“The Temple is to space as the Sabbath is to time.”
I really like that thought, particularly in light of, “Know ye knot that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?” (1 Corin. 6:19) – or the alternate version, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corin. 3:16) If we are considered to be the temple of God as receivers of the Holy Ghost, it makes sense that we should take time regularly to clean and maintain and purify that temple – and the Sabbath fits such a focus perfectly.
I also like the idea of taking our temple to His temple – of “joining houses”, so to speak, on a regular basis.
CD: You said:
“I figure you and most of the folks that post here understand the gaps in your teachings versus ours. There are huge gaps, the temple being one of them.”
There are gaps out there. That why we have the restored Gospel (LDS Church). To help fill in the gaps left after the Apostasy.
Thanks, CD, that was helpful. Appreciate your point!
Say, maybe you can help me on an off-topic issue. Today I received a letter from a Catholic diocese asking me to provide personal data about two people I know who divorced after a couple of kids and over a decade of marriage. One of them, a Catholic man, has found another honey he wants to marry, and apparently is seeking to have his first marriage annulled so the new marriage can be a good Catholic wedding. A tribunal is being held to consider his request, and so the diocese is contacting several people to get information it needs to make the decision. This is a completely foreign experience to me. Seems like a nice way to lose friends! Any resources you recommend? Have you been through the experience of being a witness providing data for or against an annulment? Is this procedure the same everywhere or does it vary strongly between regions? I hope this is very rare.
I’ll try to anser your question, but I have to tell you, I’m not as versed in annullments as others might be. As far as I know, the Catholic faith is the only faith that uses annullments. Basically, Protestants recognize divorce, where Catholics don’t…see Henry the 8th and his dispute with the Pope, ergo…birth of the Anglican Church.
Its a bit of a play on semantics, but the basic difference between divorcing and annulling is that the annullment says there was no sacramental marriage to begin with, versus divorce which says that the bonds of the marriage have broken down and can’t be repaired. This is a significant difference for a Catholic wanting to remarry because if you’re divorced and remarry you can’t participate in the various sacraments because you are living in sin by committing adultery. Essentially a divorced Catholic cuts themselves off from Christ’s love by living a sinful life.
This brings us to the annullment process. Here the church is looking at the entire span of the marriage from day one to determine if the marriage was truly a sacramental marriage to begin with. This goes back to Matthew, not sure which chapter, where Christ is telling folks that no man shall separate what God has joined. The question at annullment is did God truly join these folks; if not then no marriage existed and the marriage can and should be annulled. Its a very foriegn concept to most folks, even Catholics. On a side note, some states, Michigan for example, allow annullments as a legal option…there are some benefits for doing this though I don’t know what they are.
Anyway, back to your tribunal. What’s going on here is a psuedo trial, though not using the same rules you would for court. The tribunal is bringing in friends and family members from both sides so that it can investigate the entire course of the marriage to determine if all the sacramental requirements which compose the marriage were present from the beginning. If the tenants of marriage were present from the beginning, the tribunal will deny the annullment, and your friend will have to decide if he’s going to just remarry anyway and risk separation from his faith versus following the tribunal’s ruling.
As far as the process, I believe its typical to conduct a tribunal like the one you’ve been called in on. The regional differences will play into how the tribunal is conducted as will the conservative nature of the priests that may sitting on the tribunal. zThe fact that there are kids from the marriage will play heavily in the annullment question too since annulling the marriage has an impact on those kids. For your friend I would hope he has an open minded group since extreme conservatives don’t grant many annullments. As for research materials, your best resource would be to look a the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That will talk about the process a bit and may steer you to other resources. You might also want to look at some of the pro-catholic websites for more info. Hope this helps a bit, I’ve not been through the process and only know of one person who has since annullment is something not spoken about very much.
Hi Nathan and Valerie,
I want to point out that one area where I think your church does a good job is in educating your followers as to what you believe. Unfortunately for Catholics, unless you’ve had the benefit of attending Catholic school, you might not get a solid foundation of what your faith is. That’s something we could learn from you folks.
As far as celebration of the Eucharist versus Sacrament, I don’t think there is a divergence necessarily in the symbolism, both seek to emulate the last supper and the breaking of the bread. Where the difference truly lies, is with the beliefs surrounding the symbolism. Catholics literally believe the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, Mormons are reminded of the sacrafice and the covenants they made. This may seem the same, but it really is not.
For a Catholic, the Eucharist is our communion with Christ…that’s why its called the sacrament of first communion. We are literally joined with Christ and take him into our selves. The scriptural support is found primarily in John’s chapters on the entire passion of Christ, which encompasses Psalm Sunday through the Resurrection. You have to read it entirely in conjunction with the Catechism of the Catholic Church to really grasp the scriptural references and support. LDS recognize this same scripture as well but don’t interpret its meaning the same as Catholics.
I think what the other Catholic was getting at when she was telling you you’re missing an essential element of the Eucharist was the idea of Communion with Christ. Forgive my ignorance here, but what seems to happen with LDS, is that when you partake of the sacrament, you partake of it in rememberence of Christ and his suffering. Catholics partake of the Eucharist because we are partaking of Christ and carrying him with us through our lives. That’s why Catholics are encouraged to attend mass everyday, not just Sunday, so that we always have Christ with us. This difference is why many non-Catholics get offended coming to mass and not being invited to partake of the Eucharist. Its not because they aren’t worthy to do so, its because they don’t believe the Eucharist to be what a Catholic believes it to be. Unfortunately a lot of Catholics also don’t grasp these concepts and do a poor job explaining it to their non-catholic friends and family.
Further, to us, non-LDS, your interpretation of the Bible is clouded by the fact that you believe in other scripture that we don’t recognize as being scripture. So when you’re offering your explanation for why the temple is important, its as if you’re talking Greek to most of us….
You have to read [the passion of Christ] entirely in conjunction with the Catechism of the Catholic Church to really grasp the scriptural references and support.Quotes like this illustrate something (paradox? irony?) I’ve never been able to figure out. We all have writings outside the Bible that we consider authoritative and which guide our understanding and interpretation of doctrine. These writings go by different names: Creed, Catechism, Doctrine and Covenants, dogma, whatever), but we each consider our own extra writings to be inspired of God and reflect His will (I hope!).
Perhaps I’m being overly simplistic here, but when some piece of writing tells you/me/them what to believe when we don’t agree on what the Bible says — or when the Bible says nothing at all — that writing is scripture, the revealed word of God.
If it’s not the revealed word of God, what is it, and why is it the last word in matters of doctrine?
Please realize I don’t mean to offend — I’m perfectly happy to accept the Catechism (or the Creeds) as others’ equivalents to our authoritative works, but it always seems like they work so darn hard to explain why it’s not scripture, ie not authoritative, and then try to convince me that this is a good thing.
Did you read my entire post? I think you’re taking things out of context. I was answering a question posed, not espousing on a course of my dogma’s better than yours. You can believe what ever scripture you choose.
There is no need for an edifice that is called a temple because we are the temple of God. God dwells in our hearts. He is present in us. The sacrificial system is no longer necessary, because Jesus Christ was the sacrifice to which the Israelites looked forward. The temple curtain was torn in half from top to bottom, and that means that Christ Himself intercedes for us, and there is no need for a priest to intercede on the behalf any human being. And, for Nathan and Valerie to say, "Maybe it was discussed & slashed by a bunch of mortal politicians at Nicene in 325 AD" only reveals their unfamiliarity with the early Church councils, which was to define Christian dogma in the light of heretical teachings in the Church (But I think that's for another post). Salvation in the presence of God for eternity is not the result of earning a temple recommend and going through the ritual of the temple endowment; nor is salvation based upon the hope that a human being will do your temple work for you in the temple after you are dead. The hope of salvation is only found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we are justified by our faith. No, that does not mean we have license to sin (I know you'll take my comment there), but our good works are a response to God's saving grace in our lives, and He makes us holy as He is holy as we respond to His love, and love Him and our neighbors as ourselves. We do not need to seek the LORD in any "old-fashioned way" as this post suggests. God makes His abode in us. I pray that all Mormons will come to the truth about God's Word, the temple, and the reality of the grace of Jesus Christ, which is more than a mere appendage to our works.
Peace and Grace!
I didn’t want to post as anonymous, but did something wrong in the process. I go by jackg, and my post is the one that made reference to Nathan and Valerie’s comment about a Nicea slashing of sorts.
CD – you post so many comments on here defending & explaining your faith (to which I applaud your efforts), but since you are such an avid Catholic apologist isn't it about time you created a blogger ID (you can even use Catholic Defender if its available) so it doesnt constantly say Anonymous? Just a thought.
Back to Jeff's original point: Despite what the world may say, I know the feelings I get whenever I enter the House of the Lord. I know of the special experiences I have had there. I know of the closeness to my Heavenly Father that I feel only in the House of the Lord and in no other place on this planet. I know of the sure knowledge that comes to one that families CAN be forever, only in and through temple ordinances. I know of nothing sweeter in this life than the feeling one gets in the House of the Lord. And all the worldly attacks and misunderstandings cannot change what I have felt within those hallowed walls.
“There is no need for an edifice that is called a temple because we are the temple of God. God dwells in our hearts.”
But apparently he didn’t dwell in Elijah’s heart, because he needed a temple. Is that what you are implying here jackg?
You said: “The hope of salvation is only found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we are justified by our faith.”
So by your comment, LDS are definitely on the right path towards salvation; for we have a sure hope of salvation, believe in the literal death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the first principle of the Gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“The hope of salvation is like a protective helmet; it is the foundation of our faith and an anchor to our souls.” – Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
I’m glad to see that you agree that as followers of Christ we first need to accept Him as our Savior, but that does not mean that we have a “license to sin…but our good works are a response to God’s saving grace in our lives.” So clearly a true follower of Christ does ‘good works,’ for we cannot simply confess Christ then live the life of a heathen. As Christ put it: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21.).
It’s always perplexing to me that other religions attack us for ‘doing more’ than having faith and belief in the very Christ of the New Testment and confessing Him as our Lord and Savior. It seems that according to most religions standards that Latter-day Saints are on the right track with the basic necessities. But since we choose to ‘do more’ we are somehow “going to hell.”
For arguments sake lets say all we need to be saved in heaven with Christ is to believe “in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” and then “we are justified by our faith” – and throw in doing good works as a response to His grace . If those are the requirements, then see you there! Jeff will be there too!
Nathan and Valerie (nice photo, BTW),
Your last paragraph sounds good, and I wish I could leave it there, but when you say a person has to be baptized (to the point that you create a doctrine of baptism for the dead and then temples to do that baptism in), then the emphasis is on works, and that believing in Jesus Christ isn’t enough. Yes, a believer in Christ does good works, but not for the sake of being saved, because they are already saved. Do you see the difference in the emphasis? I do the good works God already ordained me to do (Eph.2:10), because I am saved and filled with love for God and all people. The true believer does good works because they want to, not because they ought to. There’s a big difference. I believe Mormonism teaches that you have to earn your way into God’s presence through works,i.e. be a faithful hometeacher, temple recommend holder, temple marriage, etc. That is a works-righteousness doctrine, and puts the weight of our works on the side of the salvation equation of things you have to do to be saved. So, I would say that we are in agreement if you can say that even baptism doesn’t save you. Now, if you can say that, then you will see there is no need for temples, baptism for the dead, and the other rituals performed in the temples. If you can’t, then I would I think you would have to agree that we believe in different gospels. My view is that the Mormon gospel is a gospel without hope because it is dependent on your works. The Christian gospel is a gospel of hope because it is dependent on faith in Jesus Christ alone. I hope you can see there are two different belief systems going on here. We can’t synchretize the Word of God to accommodate our belief systems, and I truly believe Mormonism does this.
Peace and Grace!
Jack – But you are clearly saying that our belief in the fundamental doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints; which is that Jesus was born in humble circumstances, was baptized in the river Jordan, went about doing good, was betrayed and condemned to death, suffered in the Garden and on the cross for the sins of both you and me, and was resurrected the third day; you are saying that by us confessing Him as our Lord and Savior and by trying to emulate Him in our daily life (What Would Jesus Do?) is somehow nullified by our ‘additional works.’
Perhaps all of our temple work is bogus – does that automatically nullify our staunch faith and hope in Christ? So we have hope, as much hope as the rest of the Christian world, if not more – if all of our “bonus work” is for naught, that isn’t for mortal man to decide.
If all we need is faith and hope in Christ the Latter-day Saints are already there!
Why doesn’t the rest of the Christian world ignore our “bonus works” (temple ordinances, or home teaching – which is just strengthening the testimonies of other members and watching out for the poor and needy, something Christ did His entire life, for example) – if after all, its just by faith and hope that we are saved!?
I have yet to read in the King James version of the Bible where it says that “And if ye have more than faith and hope in Christ Jesus, and profess that it must needs be by your additional works that ye are saved; then your works nullify your faith and hope in Christ’s saving grace, and ye are damned to endless torment.” Please find that for me.
Nathan and Valerie,
You both seem like nice people. I think the time has come for us to agree to disagree. I do want to say that I believe you have pure motives, and that your responses have not been solely to defend your position, but to try to enlighten me, and to reason with me in a way that I might be able to see what you perceive to be fallacies in my thinking and my logic.
It seems to me that you both really want me to see that you are true believers in Jesus Christ. I’m not going to deny that. I do think, however, that you are being misled and misguided in the theology the Mormon Church teaches, and I’m certain you feel the same about me. That’s okay. We’re human beings who don’t want to see the other end up outside of God’s presence. Can we agree on that?
So, thank you for your time, and thanks for responding and engaging me in dialogue. May God’s blessings be with you and your family always.
Peace and Grace!